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Theoretical Perspectives for Studying Individuals & Families

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Presentation on theme: "Theoretical Perspectives for Studying Individuals & Families"— Presentation transcript:

1 Theoretical Perspectives for Studying Individuals & Families

2 Learning Goals By the end of this lesson you will understand eight theoretical perspectives. You will be able to compare the theories to each other. You will be able to evaluate the usefulness of each theory.

3 Theories When scientists explain their observations, their answers reflect their theories Some theories have been used to explain human behaviour for many years Other theories have been revised and replaced Theories are NOT FACTS, just attempts to explain evidence

4 MICRO vs MACRO Perspectives
MACRO theories study the interaction between society and institutions such as the law, family, politics, etc. MICRO theories emphasize the relationships within individual families

5 Theoretical Perspectives
Functionalism Systems Theory Symbolic Interactionism Social Exchange Theory Developmental Theories Conflict Theory Feminist Theory Ecological Perspectives Theory

6 Structural Functionalism
MACRO Approach Attempts to explain how society is organized to perform required functions Focuses on how institutions, such as the law, political system, and the family function Assumes societies are stable when structures function to benefit society

7 Structural Functionalism
Examine the ROLES individuals play to contribute to the bigger picture Status = a specific position within a social group Role = the set of behaviours an individual is expected to demonstrate within a status Norm = most prevalent behaviours in that role Example: An individual with a “father” status is expected to take on behaviours such as working, child care and providing to fulfill his role. It is the norm for a father to work outside the household.

8 Structural Functionalism
Strengths of Approach: Explains how family interacts with society Emphasizes family strengths rather than weaknesses • Weaknesses/Criticisms of Approach: -Does not explain why societies or families change -Change and individual differences are seen as disruptions -Only one acceptable form of family rather than many variations -Doesn’t deal with interpersonal relationships

9 Systems Theory MICRO AND MACRO
Attempts to explain how groups of individuals interact as a system and influence each other A system is a set of interrelated parts Family systems have a complex organization Individuals within the system influence each other in a reciprocal way

10 Systems Theory The family system changes when a change in one person’s behaviour causes the behaviour of another to evolve The larger family system contains subsystems (father-child, mother-father) A genogram diagram depicts the relationships within a family system

11 Genogram Below is a genorgram of disaese patterns within a family

12 Systems Theory Advantages: Disadvantages:
Explains the behaviour of individuals as inseparable from the group Explains why behaviour continues in destructive patterns even through generations Disadvantages: Can be difficult to determine how others within the family are influencing an individuals behaviour Overlooks experience of individuals Social/Structural factors, such as unemployment are not taken into consideration

13 Symbolic Interactionism
MICRO Approach A psychological theory that attempts to explain how individual choose how they will act based on their perceptions of themselves and of others People define and interpret their experiences and give meaning to them Couples Retreat:

14 Symbolic Interactionism
“Me” =objective qualities (tall, male, student) “I” = subjective self (good student, shy, lonely) Role taking = being able to anticipate how other’s will respond Communication requires common language and use of shared symbols


16 Cooley’s Looking Glass Self
“I am not what I think I am. I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am”


18 Symbolic Interactionism
Advantages Emphasizes mental processes and takes individual perception and interpretations into consideration Sense of individual control Explains importance of shared symbols and communication Disadvantages Observations of researchers may be influenced by the researchers interpretations Pays little attention to the impact of wider society and does not explain society-wide changes in families

19 Social Exchange Theory
MICRO approach A psychological theory that attempts to explain the social factors that influence reciprocal relationships People act to maximize the benefits and minimize costs to themselves Individuals interpret their experiences in terms of costs vs. benefits

20 Social Exchange Theory
Relationships are stable when the benefits that each person receives balance the costs of the relationships This theory is used to explain how individuals make decisions to form and maintain relationships that may be seen as unacceptable to others

21 Social Exchange Theories
Weaknesses -A limitation of this theory is that some people are offended by the cost/benefit analysis -Attempts to explain individual behaviour and needs and pays less attention to family dynamics

22 Developmental Theories
An interdisciplinary MICRO approach to describe patterns to explain growth and change throughout the human life cycle Developmental Tasks = role expectations that challenge people to develop Erik Erikson – people develop individual identities separate from their parents to make the transition to adulthood

23 Developmental Theories
Examine biological, psychological, social and cultural factors that influence development Different factors at different ages Outline predictable stages marked by normative events At each stage there are developmental prerequisites One must complete on developmental task to move onto the next

24 Developmental Theories
Disadvantages Not all stages will fit all families or individuals Some families will experience non-normative events such as death of a child, etc Stages make the theory restrictive because they do not always occur in order, or occur at all

25 Conflict Theory A MACRO interdisciplinary sociological and political theory Explains how power (ability to control the behaviour of another) holds a society together Conflict exists because of inequalities Groups compete with each other to meet their needs

26 Conflict Theory Describes the relationship of men and women within a family as one of exploitation and oppression, and is used for analyzing power and authority within the family Developed in the 19th century when there were large social inequalities in society Disadvantage Negative approach

27 Feminist Theories A branch of conflict theories
Developed in the second half of the 20th century to explain the impact of sex and gender on behaviour Considers issues from the point of view of women

28 Feminist Theories Argue that change is required so that the needs of all people are met Attempts to explain social inequalities between men and women from a variety of female perpectives Socialist feminism is based on the assumption that the status of women is a social inequality rooted in the sexual division of paid vs. unpaid labour

29 Ecological Perspective
A modern psychological theory that looks at individuals & families as interlocking systems within society that influence each other Combines aspects of systems theory & developmental theories Advantages: -Explains diversity of developmental behaviour tha can’t be explained by develpmental theory alone -Recognizes the influence of others in relationships, but extends to influences outside family Disadvantages: -Less useful for investigating individual situations

30 Ecological Perspective
Individuals & Familes are influenced on 4 levels: (1) Microsystem: An individual develops behaviour to meet own needs (2) Mesosystem: Small groups to which individual belongs socials indviduals in ways influenced by society (3) Exosystem: Socio-economic environment sets expectations and influences resources available (4) Macrosystem: Society in which person lives influences behaviour


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